What an interesting few weeks we have had over here in Miami. It’s been an intense period of time since the World Outgames announced on Friday that the entire Games had been cancelled before the opening Ceremony on Saturday. As teams were travelling to Miami news began to filter through to ALL competitors that most of the sporting events were being cancelled due to mismanagement of funds by the organising body. With no word from any official body (including GLISA) it was left to individual sports to rally together and try to scrape together an event out of nothing.
It was a huge credit to both Freezone Volleyball and Melbourne Spikers as the committee members of both clubs instantly stepped up to the mark to try and work towards rescuing the Volleyball event from not happening. Communication was rapid between the two clubs and Sebastian Delfino, Stuart Mackay and Peter Furness became the force behind ‘how to rescue the volleyball competition’. Phone calls were going crazy as we were all in transit to Miami and by the time we arrived we had secured the proposed venue, established an online Facebook presence and alternative registration page, been in contact with as many as 20 teams from the original 27 registered for the games, communicated with local organisers in local volleyball leagues in Miami Beach and begun working towards a budget and restoring the competition in it’s entirety. The trio of rescuers were joined by another competitor from Ontario Canada, David Muddiman who stepped up and created a new complete draw with 3 divisions and 4 days of full play that actually had more volleyball for everyone involved.
As we were arriving on the Friday of a long weekend public holiday in Miami we knew this was going to be a challenge. With dogged determination Stuart, Sebba, David and Pete worked hard to try and source as much support as was possible with local contacts and business individuals coming to the fore and trying in their own way to ensure the games continued to happen.
By the time Sunday rolled around, there were 21 teams interested in joining in the new rogue volleyball competition and we had arranged for a budget of US$40 that would cover the costs of the venue and the operation costs. The local Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce of Miami Beach were amazing in their support and logistical help in rescuing the tournament along with members of the South Florida Volleyball League and other local community members who had heard about the predicament and literally offered their time and energy to help create an international event.
Sunday 29th we were all meeting everyone for the first time at a local bar on the boulevard at Miami Beach. Volleyballers from all over the world were coming in and enjoying the ambience and shows of the evening as we collected money and got names and teams registered for our new event. Tuesday morning saw the players kicking off at the beach tournament which had been organised by another local beach club and then it was onto the University of Miami where we kicked off the Indoor Tournament
On the afternoon of the first day after the first few rounds of play you would never have known that days earlier this event was the cause of much anger and bitter disappointment. But once the games started, there was happiness abounding in the gym with everyone doing what they had come to Miami to do.
It was such an amazing occurance that the crew from Australia (with our new Canadian Counterpart) had managed to pull off this event and create a good feeling amongst all the competitors who were there to enjoy playing volleyball. At the end of it all, everyone had played more volleyball than they could handle with tired bodies littering the grounds of the gym as medal playoffs were in progress. New friendships had been formed and the ‘party’ continued to roll on.
On the playing front Sydney was well represented with 4 teams in the B division and Kee Kum taking out a bronze medal in the Final against the FZ Pistons (yes an all aussie playoff). In the beach competition there were medals in the C and B grade with Freezone Players taking out all medals in the B grade competition and also the silver medal in the C grade.
At the end of the day, the scene was a triumph of collaboration and commitment to ensuring that sport and cameraderie wins out in the end. So very proud of the combination of the new Gay Volleyball Australia which saw our 2 clubs banding together to perform a rescue mission.
Now… time for a very well earned repose by a pool!